“Each of us at some point or another is a by-product of our environment and all of us, no matter how hard we work, are a sum of our actions.”
Penjman Ghadimi, Third Circle Theory
Our environments shape us. As a child we have little to no control of our environment. From the moment we enter this world, we start having experiences. Each experience is a lesson. Our minds draw conclusions based on our experiences. Without thinking about it, we end up with thousands of assumptions that our mind accepts as truth. Learning becomes more purposeful with age. We are taught by our parents and teachers and social interactions. Thus our mind is shaped. Patterns are formed. Behaviors become habits.
Learning is truly an incredible thing. Unfortunately, some of the habits we pick up are actually destructive. I picked up a habit of complaining. I blamed others in my mind so that I did not have to feel the guilt. This resulted in a victim mentality, where everything was done to me, leaving me with no control. This was of course all mental. It was merely a mindset. This thought pattern didn’t break until I was in my late teens. I’m not 100% sure what brought the change, but something in my thinking snapped. I suddenly found myself questioning my own thinking. I also started realizing I had goals that I wanted to accomplish and my thinking was actually leading me to failure. It was not my ability which caused my downfall.
Sometimes our behavior is so ingrained that we don’t even realize anyone could be different. Over the summer last year, I had the opportunity to visit Ghana with a group from my church. One of the most surprising parts for me were the simple cultural differences, most commonly referred to as “common sense.” Common sense means nothing. There is no such thing. What is called “common sense,” is actually a set of assumptions or behaviors ingrained so deeply that one assumes everyone must think the same way. For example, I was always taught to look someone in the eyes when I speak to them. I believed it was “common sense.” In Ghana it is the opposite. Kids show respect to elders by not looking them in the eyes while speaking to them. Clearly my sense was not common. But I did not invent for myself what was respectful behavior. I was taught as a child. My outward behavior was different than a Ghanaian because of my environment. They were taught differently by their environment.
Of our learned behaviors however, the most important issue is our actual thought processes. In high school I did minimal sports because I lacked confidence. I avoided the gym until I was 19, because I believed I would fail. By not even trying I had already failed. Once I actually decided to try I began to succeed. Why did I try at 19? I gained a lot of support that I had never felt before. I believe this was what gave me the confidence to try. Once I started tying I began succeeding. I gained more support from people I was surrounded by and before I knew it, my thinking had done a 180 degree turn. I am now a firm believer that I can do anything that I work towards. Any goal, it doesn’t matter how big, I can accomplish it with enough purposeful energy. And you are no different!
Your environment shapes you, whether you like it our not. And if you are old enough to be reading then you are old enough to make decisions about your environment. Friends are a huge influencer. Who are you surrounding yourself with? Are they uplifting? Are they challenging you to be better? Or are they dragging you down? Do they discourage you?
How do you spend your time? Are you wasting time watching some reality TV show that encourages you to be dissatisfied? Or are you out making positive changes and surrounding yourself with successful people?
You control your environment. Your environment determines your thinking. Therefore, you can control your thinking. And if you control your thinking, you control your outcome.